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Public Encouraged to Participate in Pricing Process

Public hearings will be held to decide how to collect fees from transportation which will use Beijing's Fifth Ring Road.

The announcement was made on Tuesday by Beijing Capital Road Development Co, operator of the Fifth Ring Road.

It came after the State Development Planning Commission began carrying out regulations relating to hearings in the government's pricing process of products and services "vital to the public's daily life'' on August 1.

Chen Huai, deputy director of the Market Economy Research Institute of the State Council-affiliated Development Research Centre, said it was a good way for the matter to "solicit opinions from concerning parties and co-ordinate their interest'' by holding public hearings.

Jiang Yanping, an official from the development company, said representatives of consumers, legal experts and other related parties attending the hearings are expected to make a reasonable decision on how to collect fees.

The ring road's first section will be open to traffic at the end of September.

A Beijing taxi driver, Zhang Jianjiang, said: "The announcement is very encouraging news, compared with the previous actions of governments and enterprises, and I hope the fees to be charged on us will be equitable.''

The Chinese Government is committed to enhancing the transparency in its pricing process of products and services, vital to the public's daily life, by setting up an integrated hearing system.

Han Yongwen, deputy director of the economic policy co-ordination division under the commission, said the government hopes the system will cover products and services provided by such industries involved in water, electricity and gas supply, civil aviation, telecommunications and public transport.

Han said the regulations were interim measures before the establishment of an integrated price hearing system, adding that the commission would release a specific programme soon.

"The hearing system will give the public a say in the pricing process to make prices more reasonable,'' Han said.

The public and, even, enterprises were excluded from the pricing process, with prices determined entirely by the governments at various levels under the old planned economy.

Enterprises were first allowed to engage in the pricing process in the 1980s but the final decision was still made by governments, according to their evaluations of the enterprises' operation and market development.

This system led to many public complaints about the prices of products and the services of many industries, including civil aviation, public transport and telecommunications.

(China Daily 08/10/2001)

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